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Monday, February 2, 2015

NEWS FOR 2/2/2015 Monday February 2nd 2015


Millions of middle class Americans will remain uninsured despite Obamacare

the good news from last week’s Congressional Budget Office report was that Obamacare will cost 20 percent less through 2019 than originally expected. That’s in  part because medical inflation has slowed more than the CBO anticipated back in 2010 when the law went into effect.

But the report had bad news too.  Fewer people are signing up for coverage than the government had hoped. In fact, the CBO estimates that 31 million of us will still be uninsured 10 years from now.

The Supreme Court bears some of the responsibility on that front.  It ruled in 2012 that even though Congress intended for all the states to expand their Medicaid programs to include more low-income individuals and families, states could opt out of that requirement. And many with Republican governors and legislatures did. .

The other main reason for the sobering estimate of uninsured 10 years down the road:  many people still can’t afford to buy health insurance, even with financial help from the government.

Back in 2010, the CBO predicted that 13 million people would have signed up for coverage by the end of this year through the Obamacare exchanges—which have been operating in every state and the District of Columbia since the fall of 2013.   The CBO revised its projection downward last week to 12 million, but the actual number very likely will be less than that. The Obama administration’s enrollment target for 2015 is just 9 million.

The CBO projects that health plan enrollment on the exchanges will jump to 21 million next year and that an additional 16 million previously uninsured Americans will be covered by either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program by the end of 2016.

The vast majority of the people who have enrolled in exchange plans so far have had incomes so low they were eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums.

But millions of other people earn just a little too much to qualify for financial help from the government, and many of them are choosing to remain uninsured.

Although the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats who voted for the law don’t talk much about it, a significant percentage of the population will always be in a kind of no-man’s land. They earn too much to quality for either Medicaid or federal subsidies, but they also earn too little to be penalized for not buying it.

(YAHOO, feb 1st)

US AND WORLD ECONOMY___________________

President Obama proposed $4 trillion federal budget would raise taxes $2.1 trillion, or $6,461 per person, but would spend $2.4 trillion more, drawing a “dead-in-the-water” reaction from members of Congress who will write the bill.

“The president is required by law to submit a budget proposal. It is a suggestion and a wish list, but the budget of Congress sets the outline of spending for the coming year,” said a statement released Monday by the House and Senate budget committees.

“We will work with our colleagues to make sure it is complete, on-time, and balanced within the next 10 years.”

The statement, from House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., described Obama’s plan as “unsustainable” and “failed.”

But it was Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who unleashed on the president.

“The president’s budget is a retread of the same top-down redistributive policies that have failed to lift hard-working American families and promote a strong and healthy economy. A $4 trillion government spending spree propped up by massive new tax hikes, this budget blueprint shamelessly panders to the Democratic base and does nothing to put our nation back on a sound fiscal footing,” he said.

“Rather than creating a simpler, fairer, more competitive tax system it adds complexity and confusion. It lacks fiscal responsibility, not ever reaching a balance, and does nothing to reform the greatest drivers of our debt – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

“This budget is partisan, not practical. Even the White House has conceded it will be a nonstarter with Congress. It’s time for the president to move past political talking points and start working with Republicans and Democrats to find consensus on policies that will expand the economy, create more jobs and provide bigger paychecks and better opportunities for the American people.”

(WND, feb 2nd)

A member of my staff caught an obscure resolution that was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week—Resolution no. 41. The fact that there was essentially no coverage of this Resolution really shows how the mainstream media is completely turning a blind eye to the true fiscal situation of the United States of America.

The entire point of the resolution is to say that the federal government is broke.

It can’t pay its own bills, and therefore is shouldn’t be responsible to pay anyone else’s either.

It doesn’t’ take a rocket scientists to figure out what a bankrupt government will do—just like any thief, they’ll go after easy targets first.

The easiest target of all is future generations.

They’re going to run up the debt as high as they can, which essentially means pulling future tax revenues into today. It’s the easiest tax of all, because unborn children do not vote.

The estate tax is another one to watch out for—because, like unborn children, dead people don’t vote either.

We had a great podcast yesterday about retirement savings, where there’s an easy $5 trillion treasure chest for them to raid.

And, of course, there’s the greatest tax of all, the inflation tax, which decreases the standard of living for most of the population as the cost of living rises much faster than incomes.

This Resolution is a pretty scary dose of honesty. But again, what’s even more concerning is that it was just ignored and has objectively a zero percent chance of passing.

I do encourage you to check it out though—even the government is admitting it’s finished.

(zero hedge, jan 31st)

Drop In Gas Prices Nationwide Coming To End

All good things must come to an end. Experts say the steady drop in gas prices across the country is one of those things.

More than 120 straight days at the pump, the numbers kept going down. Drivers rejoiced.

While the national average for a gallon of regular should hit $2.00 this week, prices in some parts of the country made a slight uptick.

“We don’t expect the statewide average to continue to decline,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA Mid Atlantic spokesperson.

But could the state see a return to $3.00 for a gallon of regular? AAA Mid Atlantic says not likely.

“Moving into the rest of 2015, we expect the average will remain below $3.00 a gallon,” Averella said.

(CBS baltimore, feb 1st)

On Monday, eBay and PayPal began notifying employees who were losing their jobs as part of the cuts, multiple sources tell Re/code, as management looks to scale back initiatives that haven’t panned out ahead of the planned split of the two companies in the second half of this year.
(Recode, feb 2nd)

The European Central Bank (ECB) finally pulled the QE trigger by committing to purchase 60 billion euros of government debt and other assets every month until September of 2016 or until inflation gets closer to 2 percent.

The made-up excuse for this legal counterfeiting is that Europe is dangerously close to having (a very flawed) index of consumer prices drop below zero; as though calamity would strike Europe if the index were to register a negative number. The ECB claims it needs to print money because lower oil prices and — previous to that — a stronger euro were causing average prices to deviate from its 2 percent inflation target. It’s like having your supermarket run a 50 percent off sale on steak one weekend, and then having the ECB try to make all other prices in the supermarket go up so your total bill at the cash register goes up.

The 2 percent inflation was never meant to be a target, but a ceiling. The problem has never been too little printing but too much printing. Deflation has never been a real problem (see here, here and here), but bouts of inflation have regularly led to chaos and social upheaval.

(, feb 1st)


 Federal bureaucrats handed out more than 5.5 million new work permits to aliens in the U.S. from 2009 to 2014 beyond the number of new green card and temporary worker admissions, according to a new report that accuses the Obama White House of setting up a shadow government program.

“This is a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the limits set by Congress that inevitably impacts opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration,” said the report by Jessica M. Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“A huge number of work permits, 1.7 million, were issued to aliens whose status was unknown, not recorded by the adjudicator, or not disclosed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes the applications,” the report said.

“This should be a concern; work permits are gateway documents to driver’s licenses and other benefits, and if the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual’s identity?

“It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it,” the report said.

Obama has issued a series of presidential memos that defer deportation and offer privileges to several million illegal aliens, effectively granting them amnesty, according to his critics.

(WND, feb 2nd)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is calling for an investigation into the recently exposed “shadow” work authorization system, in which the Obama administration has allowed millions more immigrants than Congress mandated to obtain work permits.

“This massive increase in the labor supply has occurred simultaneously with a steep drop in family incomes and a sharp rise in the number of Americans pushed out of the workforce,” Sessions said in a statement Monday. “All jobs gains since the recession have gone to foreign workers, while the slack labor market has depressed median family incomes almost $5,000 in that time.”

Sessions was reacting to new data revealed in a Center for Immigration report, showing that since 2009 the Obama administration has issued 5.5 million new work permits, more than the 1.1 million legal immigrants and 700,000 guest workers allowed into the to the U.S. annually.

(Breitbart, feb 2nd)

THE DRUG WAR__________

 Mexican farmers turn to opium poppies to meet surge in US heroin demand

In the mountains of Guerrero small villages with few economic alternatives mark the first link in the chain of Mexico’s multibillion-dollar opium trade

Mexican farmers from three villages interviewed by the Associated Press are feeding a growing addiction in the US, where heroin use has spread from back alleys to the cul-de-sacs of suburbia.

The heroin trade is a losing prospect for everyone except the Mexican cartels, who have found a new way to make money in the face of falling cocaine consumption and marijuana legalisation in the United States. Once smaller-scale producers of low-grade black tar, Mexican drug traffickers are now refining opium paste into high-grade white heroin and flooding the world’s largest market for illegal drugs, using the distribution routes they built for marijuana and cocaine.

It is a business that even the farmers don’t like. In a rare interview with reporters, the villagers told the Associated Press that it’s too difficult to ship farm products on roads so rough and close to the sky that cars are in constant danger of tumbling off the single-lane dirt roads that zigzag up to the fields. They say the small plastic-wrapped bricks of gummy opium paste are the only thing that will guarantee them a cash income.

According to the DEA’s 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexico produces nearly half of the heroin found in the United States, up from 39% in 2008.

Mexican government seizures of opium and eradication of poppy plantations have skyrocketed in recent years. The trends are consistent: opium paste seizures in Mexico were up 500% between 2013 and 2014; poppy field eradications were up 47%; and seizures of the processed drug increased 42%. Along the US border they are three times what they were in 2009.

(The guardian, feb 2nd)

WORLD CONFLICTS______________

The United States took an active part in the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, which installed pro-Western authorities, US President Obama told CNN Sunday.

“And since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine — not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and [Ukraine's then-President Viktor] Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine,” Obama said in an interview.

Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013 triggered a mass wave of protests across Ukraine, which culminated in the February coup. Following the February events and the rise of aggressive nationalism in the country, Crimea seceded from Ukraine and joined Russia in March 2014, following a referendum, in which 96 percent of voters were in favour of reunifying with Russia.

(Sputnik, feb 2nd)

Obama responds to Russian aggression with ... meter maids

President Obama says he is “deeply concerned” about escalated aggression by Russian-backed separatists and has pledged to “raise the costs” for Moscow’s annexation of territory in Ukraine.

One of the costs that Obama intends to impose upon Russians and Ukrainians alike will be the cost of parking a car in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Obama, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has developed a plan to help modernize the Ukrainian capital’s municipal parking infrastructure.

Currently the agency says, it is “burdened by outdated payment infrastructure, non-compliant drivers, unauthorized parking services and national and city-level legislation that hampers the enforcement of parking violations.”

U.S. taxpayers will help correct the inefficient system by subsidizing a contractor that will visit Ukraine for 84 days to “generate options to make reforms to the municipal parking situation so that the city can administer it more efficiently and cost-effectively,” according to planning documents WND located via database research.

Although the official parking authority, KievParkService, owns more than 18,000 lot- and curb-side parking spaces – which are operated by 350 parking attendants and 73 administrators – the parking bureaucracy by a large measure annually fails to meet its projected collection of fees and fines.

USAID acknowledges that part of the problem is corruption, as the parking system largely relies on cash transactions. Additional obstacles stem from a “shadow economy” of competing and often illegal parking-lot owners who operate with impunity in the face of lax enforcement.

(WND, feb 2nd)

Images or mentions of knives, ransom or blood — or anything else that can be seen alluding to the hostage crisis involving two Japanese in Syria — have been omitted. Some anime and other entertainment programs are altering, cancelling or postponing episodes violating those sensitivities — typical of the kind of self-restraint shown here to avoid controversy.

(AP, jan 31st)

The conspiracy theorists are right. Research shows nations really do go to war over oil.

Our research builds on a near-exhaustive sample of 69 countries which had a civil war between 1945 and 1999. About two-thirds of civil wars during the period saw third party intervention either by another country or outside organization.

We found that the decision to interfere was dominated by the interveners’ need for oil – over and above historical, geographical or ethnic ties.

(washington post, jan 28th)

POLICE STATE AND JUSTICE____________________

Fearing for his life, a New York cop pulled a gun on a group of teens having a snowball fight.

“Don’t fucking move, guys,” the New Rochelle police officer can be heard on video as he points his gun at the youths, who are down on their knees with their hands in the air.

The cop proceeds to pat each of the youths down with one hand while holding the gun, continually telling them not to move.

Once the officer realized the fear was all in his head, he released the teens with no charges.

The officer had initially responded to a “disturbance,” according to Raw Story.

(PINAC, feb 1st)

Fourth-grader says he has the One Ring, school suspends him for terrorist threat, dad says

Steward took his story to the Odessa (Texas) American on Friday, saying the boy had seen The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies the preceding weekend. He brought a ring to class and told another kid it would make him vanish.

When Steward confronted the school principal to ask what was going on, he said he was told that threatening another child's safety — whether the threats are magical or otherwise -—are not tolerated.

"I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence," Steward told the News. "If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back."

This isn't his son's first scrape with authority; the boy has been suspended three times already, once for calling a black classmate black, the other for bringing a book to school that had a drawing of a pregnant woman. The family moved to the school district six months ago.

(polygon, feb 1st)

U.S. judge quits commission to protest Justice Department forensic science policy

The sole federal judge on a commission appointed by President Obama to improve forensic science in the criminal justice system has resigned in protest, criticizing the U.S. Department of Justice for muzzling its work to benefit prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York said he quit because the Justice Department had barred it from recommending an expansion of the exchange of pretrial information to include more evidence from forensic experts. Prosecutors routinely share evidence with defense lawyers. Rakoff said in his resignation letter that the ban contradicts the panel’s charter and voids months of work.

The proposed change would address a major criticism of the nation’s top scientific organization and many legal experts, who have warned in recent years that police and prosecutors exercise too much control over crime labs, which suffer from weak standards over research, testimony and examinations. The failings that have led to dozens of lab scandals and hundreds of exonerations over the past two decades.

(washington post, jan 29th)


Google’s clandestine cutting-edge health research facility has created synthetic human skin as part of its innovative cancer detecting project that aims to prevent the disease before it develops, US media has revealed.

Google X laboratories, located in Mountain View, California, has been working on a wristband that can detect cancer cells and warn of impending heart attacks and other diseases transmitted through a person’s blood. The Atlantic visited the semi-secretive research center, which employs more than 100 doctors and scientists, and asked its head why Google is making human skin.

(Russia Today, feb 1st)

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, says he’s keeping that question in mind as he pitches the biggest regulatory shake-up to the telecommunications industry since 1996, when people still used noisy modems and referred to the “information superhighway” as a fun way to buy books or check the weather.

Wheeler has not publicly released his plan yet, and might not for a few weeks. But he has suggested that Internet service has become as critical to people in the United States as water, electricity or phone service and should be regulated like any other public utility.

Wheeler told reporters this past week that he wants “yardsticks in place to determine what is in the best interest of consumers as opposed to what is in the best interest of the gatekeepers.”

The commissioners will vote Feb. 26. Wheeler expected to have the support of the other two Democratic commissioners. The two Republican commissioners have made clear that they do not support applying Title II.

(AP, feb 1st)


Minnesota’s largest school district is discussing screening high school students for depression and anxiety in the classroom.

As part of a state grant to improve mental health services, Anoka-Hennepin schools could offer a screening as soon as next fall.

Dr. Nita Kumar, a mental health consultant for the district, said Friday that the idea is to get students to talk about something they may hide from their parents or not even understand what is happening.

The school district is considering spending a $370,000 state grant on testing for depression in the classroom.

The form is the same one many doctors’ offices provide, the PHQ9 form.

Kumar said with parents’ permission, the patient health questionnaire would be given to 10th graders in health class.

Teachers would not score the questionnaire for privacy reasons. A health care professional would score them and make a recommendation based on the results.

“Developmentally, at that age kids are starting to take some more responsibility for their own health,” she said.

Kumar calls it a chance to pick up on something students may not be sharing at school or at home.

“We are able to make sure they get adequate care as early as possible,” Kumar said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents in Minnesota after accidents.

Anoka-Hennepin schools garnered national attention after seven students took their own lives between September 2009 and May 2011.

(CBS minnesota, jan 30th)

The morning of the recommitment hearing, Alison Hymes sat in a small waiting area of a Virginia mental hospital in a navy blue sweatsuit, clutching a green composition book to her chest.

She’d scribbled down a list of arguments in favor of releasing her from Western State Hospital in Staunton, Va. They included: “Been here too long” and “Becoming institutionalized.”

“I don’t think they will listen to them,” she said.

Hymes had said similar things at the six other recommitment hearings she’d had over the previous 17 months, after a judge ruled that she was a danger to herself and involuntarily hospitalized her for the second time in three years. Her bipolar disorder had landed her in institutions multiple times over three decades, but never for this long.

The day before the hearing last May, she posted on Facebook: “Afraid I will be committed for two more months.”

Hymes was no ordinary patient. Before landing at Western, she spent years urging others with mental illness and their families not to let doctors, judges and social workers make decisions for them. She was part of a state task force charged with reforming civil commitment laws at the time of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, serving alongside doctors, academics, and law enforcement officials.

The daughter of a prominent University of Virginia linguist, Hymes argued vehemently — and unsuccessfully — against loosening the state’s commitment criteria.

Hymes, now 58, believed those changes made it easier for authorities to involuntarily commit her in 2011 and again in 2013.

(washington post, jan 31st)

Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink.

They did it with explicit permission from state regulators, who were supposed to protect the increasingly strained groundwater supplies from contamination.

Instead, the state allowed companies to drill more than 170 waste-disposal wells into aquifers suitable for drinking or irrigation, according to data reviewed by The Chronicle. Hundreds more inject a blend of briny water, hydrocarbons and trace chemicals into lower-quality aquifers that could be used with more intense treatment.

Most of the waste-injection wells lie in California’s parched Central Valley, whose desperate residents are pumping so much groundwater to cope with the historic drought that the land has started to sink.

(SF GATE, feb 1st)

Chris Christie is not the only prospective presidential candidate who has called for a “balanced approach” to the vaccine debate triggered by a measles outbreak in many states in the United States.

While in the United Kingdom, the Governor of New Jersey commented on whether the government should be able to mandate vaccines that are widely accepted by the medical community.

“There has to be a balance, and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest,” Christie said. “Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”

The comments immediately put Christie on the defensive. Later Monday, Christie had to walk back his comments in a press release, saying “there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

Chris Christie’s comments resemble the rhetoric Democrats used in 2008, however. On more than one occasion, Obama echoed common anti-vaccine arguments that vaccines, including ones based on long-retracted research that vaccines have a tie to autism.

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it,” then Sen. Obama said.

The president’s words contrast his current position that there is no reason not to get vaccinated. The president said over the weekend that the scientific evidence in support of vaccines is “overwhelming.”

“There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers. But the science right now is inconclusive,” Obama said.

Likely 2016 Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton had a similar statement while speaking to an anti-vaccine group on the campaign trail in 2008.

“I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines,” said Clinton in a written response to the group.

(Free beacon, feb 2nd)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that while “vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we had,” he claims he has heard of children who got mental disorders from vaccines on Monday’s “Closing Bell” on CNBC.

 “I’ll give you a good example, the Hepatitis B vaccine is now given to newborns. We sometimes give five and six vaccines all at one time. I chose to have my delayed. I don’t want my government telling me that I have to give my new newborn the Hepatitis B vaccine, which is transmitted by sexually transmitted disease and/or blood transfusions… so I had mine staggered over several months. I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea, I think they’re a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.”

(Breitbart, feb 2nd)

CHINA’s bachelors are in crisis. There just aren’t enough women to go around.

Figures released this month show that at the end of 2014, China had 701 million men and 667 million women — a shortfall of nearly 34 million.

With 120 men for every 100 women, China’s Bridget Joneses are now male, and increasingly desperate for a date.

In truth, the biggest problem has been the country’s one-child policy, which led parents to abandon girls or use sex-selective abortion to guarantee a male child. Chinese hospitals have been banned from revealing a baby’s sex to the parents since 1995, but families can secretly obtain black-market sonogram tests, where blood samples are carried over the border for testing.

The government is now pushing for all couples to have a second child, but the cultural shift has not yet happened. Chinese couples tend to marry fairly young and are focused on their careers by their thirties.

Single women over 30 don’t have it much easier than the men. Despite their shrinking number, they are commonly considered washed-up, and referred to as “bare branches” or “leftover ladies”. Wu Di, a Cosmopolitan contributor and author of I Know Why You’re Left, now offers these “sheng nu” women $200-per-hour romance counselling, Foreign Policy reports.

(, feb 2nd)

MISC. NEWS____________________
San Francisco gets no rain in January for first time in 165 years

(LA times, feb 1st)

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